Health minister Joe Phaahla has announced that the government will open Covid-19 vaccinations to children over the age of 12.

In a media briefing on Friday morning (15 October), Phaahla said that the decision followed a recommendation made by the Ministerial Advisory Committee (MAC) on vaccinations and was confirmed by health officials in a meeting held on Tuesday this week.

Phaahla said that the rollout would officially begin on 20 October as further preparations need to be made to the country’s Electronic Vaccination Data System (EVDS).

He added that the schools are set to benefit significantly from the announcement as learners prepare to write their end-of-year examinations.

Phaahla said that, initially, a single Pfizer dose will be given to children, with assessments still to be made as to when a second dose will be given. He said this is due to isolated cases reported internationally where heart inflammation has been reported in younger children.

However, Phaahla confirmed that this was just a precautionary measure and that there were no overt risks in having children vaccinated.

Phaahla also confirmed that South Africa is nearing a vaccination milestone of 20 million vaccinations given, with this achievement set to be reached by the end of Friday.

He added that nearly 35% of the adult population had been given a single jab vaccine, meaning the country was also close to being halfway towards a total target of 70%.

Phaahla said that more than 1.5 million people had already downloaded their Covid-19 vaccinations, with the government now looking to expand the 2,000 attendance limit allowed at sports events.

On Thursday (14 October), South Africa reported 947 new cases of Covid-19, taking the total reported to 2,914,827.

Deaths have reached 88,506 (+40), while recoveries have climbed to 2,802,980, leaving the country with a balance of 23,341 active cases. The total number of vaccines administered is 19,899,964 (+231,787).